Mediaweek Roundup:Nine, Seven, Disney+, ABC, Hall v Gallen + more

• Val Morgan, Tracey Spicer, press freedom law changes, Nickelodeon, Star Wars, Harold Mitchell, and AFL

Business of Media

Val Morgan expands digital team for new publishing platform

Val Morgan is continuing to grow its newly launched digital division announcing the appointment of Amanda Bardas (pictured) to the role of executive editor for its new publishing platform.

Bardas’ decade-long publishing career has seen her work across print and digital. Until April 2019, Bardas was executing the audience, editorial and platform strategy across global and award-winning women’s websites – Popsugar, Who What Wear, Byrdie and MyDomaine Australia.

In 2015, she was responsible for launching Who What Wear in Australia.

Brian Florido, managing director Val Morgan Digital, said: “Amanda’s remarkable track record makes her a critical part of our digital team. Having worked with her in the past, I’m excited to welcome Amanda on board as we diversify the digital publishing division of Val Morgan.”

Amanda Bardas added, “I’m looking forward to leading our team as we build and launch a new publishing platform that fills a gap in the Australian market for content that unlocks rich conversations and drives a deeper understanding of entertainment, life and style, wellness and culture.”

Val Morgan delivers premium, engaged audiences across cinema, outdoor and digital platforms. Located throughout Australia and New Zealand, Val Morgan provides a 100% digital, full screen, advertising solution for brands looking to connect with consumers. The Val Morgan network comprises of over 12,000 location-based digital advertising screens in cinema, retail, petro-convenience and fitness locations, and offers digital publishing opportunities via its partnership with Fandom – the world’s largest entertainment fan site and a new soon-to-be-announced digital publishing platform.

Analysts downgrade Nine Entertainment Co on profit warning

Media analysts have cut their financial forecasts and target price on Nine Entertainment following the media group’s profit warning, amid a difficult advertising market, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The cuts, which were led by UBS, JPMorgan and Macquarie, were largely on the back of weak television and radio advertising markets.

JPMorgan analyst Eric Pan has downgraded his 2020 underlying earnings and revenue forecasts by 5.6 per cent to $472 million and 1.5 per cent to $2.38 billion, respectively. Pan has also cut his forecasts for the 2021 financial year, and price target by 7.8 per cent to $2.35 “due to the steeper than expected declines in metro FTA industry ad spend”.

UBS’s Eric Choi, Tom Beadle and Minnie Tong have slashed their earnings per share forecast by 10 per cent to 0.11 cents for the year to June, and cut its 12 month price target by nearly 7 per cent to $2.00.

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Seven West Media not for sale says chairman Kerry Stokes

Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes has poured cold water on speculation he is looking for an exit from the media business, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The return of James Warburton to Seven as chief executive after eight years away from the business fuelled speculation Stokes was looking to turn the business around for sale, with particular focus on News Corp, which has previously run the ruler over the company.

“We’re keen on giving James a chance to grow the business, and we’ve always been more interested growing than selling. We could have sold a long time ago if we wanted to sell.”

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Audience demands Disney+ – 10 million signups since launch

Disney backed up its claims that Disney+’s first-day glitches were the result of high consumer demand, revealing Tuesday that the streaming service had hit 10 million signups since its November 12 launch, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Disney+ launched Nov. 12 in the US, Canada and The Netherlands. It will slowly roll out around the rest of the world, starting November 19 with Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.

The company has said it expects the direct-to-consumer service to “launch in most major global markets within its first two years,” including a March 31 push into markets across Western Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

At launch, the service offered nearly 500 films, including several Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars titles, and some 7,500 TV episodes, including the entire The Simpsons library. Disney+ original programming in the early days includes The Mandalorian, the first-ever live-action Star Wars series; High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the new scripted series set at the real-life East High featured in the High School Musical franchise; and The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a docuseries from National Geographic.

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News Brands

#MeToo warrior Tracey Spicer ‘sorry’ after victims exposed by bungle

Tracey Spicer had the best of intentions when she set out in 2017 to bring the wave of #MeToo to Australia, reports The Australian’s Nicola Berkovic.

“Currently I am investigating two long-term offenders in our media industry,” she announced on Twitter. “Please, contact me privately to tell your stories.”

Then she was flattened by the deluge. Yesterday, the author and journalist said she was “truly sorry” and “gutted” that three victims who placed their trust in her had been left horribly exposed.

A preview version of an ABC documentary had been circulated to media outlets that exposed their identities, and their experiences of rape, domestic violence and harassment.

Spicer told the National Press Club that she was not a producer of the documentary, but rather one of its “many participants”.

She had agreed to take part in the program on the understanding that any information identifying victims who had not agreed to take part in it would be “blurred, redacted and de-identified”.

The three-part documentary, Silent No More, produced by Southern Pictures about the #MeToo movement in Australia, is due to air on the ABC on November 25.

The ABC said in a statement that an early version of the documentary, commissioned by its Entertainme­nt and Specialist division­, was released “due to human error” to a small number of accredited media under embargo.

Southern Pictures said in a statement it was “devastated” by the error and apologised for any distress it had caused. Spicer urged journalists to pour their energy into stories about survivo­rs and structural change rather than focusing on conflict and “clickbait”.

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Coalition flags press freedom law changes say media bosses

Media bosses say the Morrison government has flagged law changes once parliament’s intelligence and security committee hands down its report into press freedom at the end of the month, as they seek six key reforms, report The Australian’s Rosie Lewis and Olivia Caisley.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks, News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller, ABC managing director David Anderson and Sky News CEO Paul Whittaker met Attorney-General Christian Porter and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher in Parliament House.

“It was encouraging today we got into some of the areas we wanted in terms of, particularly, law changes,” Miller said after the Wednesday meeting.

“I won’t go through those particular laws. That’s what we agreed to meet in three weeks on, getting detail around how they be considered in terms of drafting.”

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Television

Viacom’s Nickelodeon in new deal to make films and TV for Netflix

Netflix and Nickelodeon have announced that they have formed a new, multi-year output deal to produce original animated feature films and television series – based both on the Nickelodeon library of characters as well as all-new IP – for kids and families around the world. This marks an expansion of the existing relationship between the companies, which has already brought several popular titles to Netflix, including animated specials Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. Also forthcoming are specials based on The Loud House and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” said Netflix vice president of original animation, Melissa Cobb. “We’re thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix.”

“Nickelodeon’s next step forward is to keep expanding beyond linear platforms, and our broader content partnership with Netflix is a key path toward that goal,” said Brian Robbins, President, Nickelodeon.

A new chapter of Star Wars begins with the launch of Disney+

In the four-decade history of Star Wars, barely 1000 minutes of live-action film have been released, including eight films but excluding some less lovingly remembered sidelines, including the two Ewok spin-off movies and 1978’s truly grim-and-bear-it Star Wars Holiday Special, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.

That’s an astonishingly small figure given it accounts for some 42 years of complex storytelling, of Jedi Knights and Sith Lords, the fall of the Galactic Republic and the rise (and fall) of the Empire, the rebel alliance, lightsabers, the spice mines of Kessel, the dark and light side of the Force, and big thematic questions such as, who shot first, Han or Greedo?

The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars television series, and the flagship program on the Disney+ streaming platform, will change all of that. In eight one-hour episodes it will bring almost 500 minutes more of living, breathing Star Wars story to the table. And, as seems to be the custom these days, a second season is already filming.

Best described as a space western, The Mandalorian takes place five years after the fall of the Empire as seen in the original trilogy film Return of the Jedi, the one where Darth Vader cuts down the Emperor and saves his son, the Jedi knight Luke Skywalker, and the rebels destroy the second Death Star.

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Sports Media

ASIC’s case against Harold Mitchell now even more interesting

Justice Jonathan Beach on Wednesday ruled that Bruce McWilliam be ordered to appear as a witness in the regulator’s case against ex-Tennis Australia directors Harold Mitchell and Steven Healy. Over the very firm objections of ASIC’s lawyers. Though the Seven exec, Beach noted, probably wouldn’t want to be “anywhere near this court”, reports The AFR’s Myriam Robin.

That’s a reasonable assumption to make about most people. But about McWilliam? As one who knows him quipped, Seven’s combative and colourful commercial director has probably already cleared his diary.

As will many others. Seriously: the court should consider selling tickets. McWilliam has made a long career out of memorably and forcefully defending the interests of Kerry Stokes. No one’s ever accused the corporate lawyer and part-time property mogul of being boring.

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Hall v Gallen: Fight set to attract more viewers than Horn v Mundine

Paul Gallen‘s showdown with AFL slugger Barry Hall is on target to become the most-watched fight of the year on TV – surpassing Jeff Horn‘s duel with Anthony Mundine, reports News Corp’s David Riccio.

Fight promoter Danny Green has declared the Code War between Gallen and Hall in Melbourne on Friday night has captivated the intrigue of the nation, with pay-per-view sales set to surpass Horn’s 96-second beating of Mundine, almost 12 months ago.

“It’s going to break all pay-per-view records for this year,’’ Green said.

“I’ve been blessed to be have taken part in three of the highest grossing pay-per-views in the country’s history and this week has got that similar feel to it.

Green wouldn’t reveal the actual number of how many pubs and clubs had paid to screen the fight, but the former world champion boxer-turned promoter had little hesitation in going public with his claim.

“It will be the biggest pay per view of the year and biggest pay per view for quite some time because of the interest in these two,’’ Green said.

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Rex Hunt unleashes on Mike Sheahan over long-held grudge

Rex Hunt has unpacked a six-year-old grudge with Mike Sheahan — and unleashed, reports News Corp’s Nui Te Koha.

Hunt, a two-time premiership player and footy calling legend, appeared on the You Cannot Be Serious podcast with respected AFL journalist Sheahan and broadcaster Sam Newman.

The trio discussed the Bombers supplements saga, and road rules, before an agitated Hunt confronted Sheahan about an interview they did on a Foxtel show, Open Mike, in 2013.

He said Sheahan focused too much on Hunt’s personal controversies.

“I’ve got to ask you one question,” Hunt said. “With the Foxtel interview I did, after you asked me for six months, and I said yes … How much pressure did you get from the top office because this will rate … and people will love people getting in trouble?”

“No pressure,” Sheahan answered.

“I set the agenda for that interview program.”

Newman asked Hunt: “Do I take it, Rex, that you’ve taken umbrage at Mick’s line of questioning?”

“I’m pissed off!” Hunt said, citing Jack Dyer’s description of him as “a good, ordinary footballer,” his 200 games and two premierships.

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